The best places to live in Jacksonville
One of the most challenging elements of relocating to a new city is finding a neighbourhood where a person and their family will feel at home. Finding the perfect area or suburb in Jacksonville will be heavily dependent on the newcomer's lifestyle, their budget and their priorities. Young professionals and those with a sizeable income tend to live close to downtown Jax, where they have access to the best amenities. New arrivals with families, or those retirees moving to Florida for a slower pace of life, may prefer to find a home in the suburbs.
Here is a breakdown of some of Jacksonville’s prominent neighbourhoods.
City living in Jacksonville
Those who prioritise location over space will find a number of areas close to downtown Jax that fit the bill. Although rents are higher than the average in Jacksonville, residents who live around downtown benefit from an easy commute to work and having the best amenities in Jax on their doorstep.
Tree-lined San Marco, just south of the city centre, is a historic district of Jacksonville that dates back to the 1920s. Residents benefit from the short commute downtown as well as vibrant entertainment offerings. Eclectic boutiques and a distinctive arts scene are also major draws for the area. Accommodation here mainly comes in the form of apartments and condos, none of which come particularly cheap. A lot of single professionals and creative types call San Marco home.
Riverside and Avondale
Historic Riverside and Avondale present a unique mix of culture, charm and modern design. Home to the world-class Cummer Museum of Arts and the fabulous dining options of the Five Points district, vibey bars and quirky thrifts shops on every corner, the area has plenty for residents to see and do. The neighbourhood's population is predominantly younger people with the disposable income to take full advantage of the neighbourhood’s amenities and attractions. While luxury waterfront homes and upscale apartment buildings are the norm here, there is still a strong sense of community and urban charm about the place.
Arlington, located on the east side of Jacksonville, is home to the famous Fort Caroline Memorial. Despite being quite close to downtown Jax, Arlington retains a typically suburban sense. That said, arrivals will quickly learn that there is much to discover in this historic district, including a solid range of dining options, busy bars and evening entertainment offerings. Residents are also just a stone's throw away from the Timucuan Ecological and Historical Preserve – a magical setting for a wide variety of outdoor pursuits. Arlington residents tend to be young couples, families and people who generally enjoy spending time outdoors.
Suburban life in Jacksonville
Whether it's newcomers moving to Jax with children, retirees who want to make the most of life in the Sunshine State or those who simply want to enjoy the great outdoors and a more relaxed pace of life, there is bound to be a suitable suburb in Jax to meet any of those needs. Each area comes with its own character and unique lifestyle offerings, but on the whole, suburban properties will be more spacious and provide better value for money.
Westside and Orange Park
Just a 25-minute drive from downtown Jax, one will find the family-friendly suburbs of Westside and Orange Park. The area is rather well known for its good schools, and it's these – plus the fact that there are parks dotted throughout – that usually attract families to the area. It's also pretty popular among retirees, who are drawn to the area for its leisurely and laid-back pace of daily life. Waterfront mansions, Tudor style-family homes and humble wooden framed buildings are just some of the housing options available. Bear in mind though, that property in the area doesn’t come cheap thanks to the neighbourhoods prime riverside location and stunning city views.
Often said to be Jacksonville’s ‘comeback neighbourhood’ for the way it managed to rebuild itself after the Great Fire of 1901, modern Springfield has grown to be one of the city's most attractive suburbs. In terms of housing, Springfield is famous for its Queen Anne- and Prairie-Style homes. Stunning architecture, well-maintained streets and walkability are major drawcards for the area. Home to a number of good public schools, Springfield is another popular choice for families. All in all, an up-and-coming community with a good range of eateries, coffee shops and entertainment options.
Nocatee is an example of the master-planned communities that are abundant throughout Florida. It is home to a diverse demographic, from young couples and families to retirees. Those with children can access schools with both St John’s and Duval Counties relatively nearby. As a relatively new community, there are plans to build new schools with the goal of having a school within walking distance of all Nocatee homes. From luxury condos to humble abodes for first-time-buyers, there are accommodation options galore in Nocatee.
If one's main motivation for moving to Florida is to indulge in beach life, the oceanfront suburbs of Jax will be a dream. Jacksonville’s seafront is made up of the areas close to Jacksonville, Neptune and Atlantic Beaches. An array of properties can be found here from beach-side cottages to modern townhouses and luxury condos. Whichever option a prospective resident has in mind, one thing's for sure: they can expect to pay top dollar for the privilege of an ocean view. Beachfront property is highly desirable and prices are among the highest in Jacksonville. Beyond the beaches themselves, residents will have plenty of amenities close by, from restaurants and bars to parks and community events. The demographic make-up of these areas is fairly mixed, from young professionals to retirees.
►For more insights on the process of renting a property in Jax read the Accommodation in Jacksonville page
Photo credit: Downtown Jacksonville by Wade Austin Ellis - Unsplash; Jacksonville Beach by Lance Asper - Unsplash.
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